181 Victoria St
West Melbourne, VIC 3003
03 9328 2388
I met Hao one evening and he told me, quite matter of factly, that he had pork spine soup the other day and wanted me to try it. There was a pause, I blinked twice.. and then said “okay”. If I can eat fish head curry without batting an eyelid, I’m sure I can do pork spine soup.
I liked the earthy feel of the place. It’s a small, quiet and simple eatery serving Korean and Japanese-style food. We got a bit of humbletown here, the eatery in question isn’t a busy place and hasn’t been on any bloggers’ radar, until now… watch me plant my flag and mark this spot, proclaiming “fatbooo’s been here!”. Sometimes, I feel like a foodie pigeon shitting all over Melbourne.
It looked interesting (and a little corn-y) on the menu, I had to try it. The tea turned out tasting like those Japanese teas with roasted rice in it, minus the caffeine.
Good dish. Nice tofu that was soft, tasty and fried well. They used a mild sweetish thick sauce, it had hints of mirin and dashi and went well with the tofu. Even though I’d always assumed Agedashi tofu should be sitting in a pool of watery sauce, this gooey version also works.
The spine soup arrived in a shallow casserole on a portable stove. We had to wait a few minutes for the deep red broth to start bubbling. While the pork was already pre-cooked, the veggies in the hot pot started off uncooked. I found this pork spine stew thick and mellow with a gentle spice and buried fragrance. The strange dirt-like sprinkling on top of everything… I think it’s wild sesame seeds, it did not taste of much, but lent an earthiness to the soup. Reminds me of wattleseed powder…
The soup was rich, bright, healing and comforting. Good for a winter’s night. The pork spine pieces were essentially segments of vertebrae (back bones) with meat still stuck to it. The meat was wonderfully fork tender and tasted great with the rich spicy broth. Some of the pieces still had some spinal cord attached. Not surprisingly, the spinal cord had the same taste as lamb’s brain. Fatty, squishy, slightly frightening but nice.